The case study analysis in the REBEL project, IO1, of the hindering and facilitating factors in the development of blended learning will be used to shape IO4, the practitioner training programme. Without prejudging the outcome of the work in IO1 which will run from April-October 2021, it is likely that the needs of teachers in implementing high quality blended learning will require a full appreciation of the hardware/software available to participants and a recognition that REBEL training fits in and is fully supported by national agencies responsible for education. The needs analysis will also take note of previous work carried out by Austin at Ulster University who has been a pioneer in the development of courses in blended learning for community cohesion in Northern Ireland (Hunter and Austin, 2020). This research noted, inter alia, that teachers often worked well when they were linked to a partner school to reduce the risk of isolation and to help teachers begin to think of themselves as being part of a community of inquiry. Consideration will also be given to the different needs of teachers working in STEM subjects compared to those in the Arts and Humanities.
Description and Target Groups
The practitioner training will be based on a common model designed to familiarise teachers with the tools they need for blended learning and to draw on insights of good practice to develop sound pedagogical plans which take account of social, cognitive and teacher presence. During the professional development days, teachers will be encouraged to draw up a 4-6 week plan of action in their schools to embed blended learning in one of their classes. At the end of that time, teachers will be brought back together to present insights from their experience to other members of their training cohort. This work will be coordinated by trainers in each country and a selection of reports from schools will be made available on the project website. The practitioner events will involve Dublin City University and PDST/TIE in Ireland; The University of Ulster in Northern Ireland; the University of Cyprus in Cyprus;
VisMedNet in Malta.
Elements of Innovation
No courses of this type, showing teachers how to use both synchronous and asynchronous tools to create digital content and a framework for interaction with pupils and students, exist at the moment. This training will be shaped by the different cultural and techno-specific school context in the 4 countries. The diversity of ICT infrastructure and support in the 4 countries means that the training will be adapted in ways that can then be disseminated at the end of the project.
Expected Impact and Transferability Potential
The primary impact is that teachers in primary and secondary schools, and tutors in Initial Teacher Education, will be able to implement high quality blended learning in their schools and colleges/Universities.
Through the use of the framework for evaluation of blended learning that they will experience in the project to assess their own work, they will have the means to continue working independently after the training period is over, using a common yardstick to measure the value of the blended learning. Teachers will be encouraged to continue their practice in blended learning through engagement with the EU’s eTwinning programme.